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VOL. 3, NO. 1 




Published by the 



APRII, 24, 1916 





























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VOL. 3, NO. I 


By John Tre.vdwell Nichols and Robert Cushman Murphy 

Sharklike forms, not unlike those of to-da\-, were among the ver\- 
earlie-st of fishes to be found on the earth. It is therefore natural to find 
the structure of the sharks simjile and primitive as comjiared with that of 
other fishes. On the other hand, their mode of reproduction is highly 
specialized. The eggs of .some kinds are hatched within the body cavit>- 
of the mother, and the young, born full}' develo])ed, are often quite 
sizable individuals ; witli others the eggs are few and large, laid .singl\- 
and enclosed in a peculiarly formed capsule. 

The sharklike fishes maN' be .separated into two groups : i , more or cylindrical or compres.sed forms — the true sharks ; and 2, broad, flat, 
depressed .species, man\- of them s]:)ecialized for l\"ing on the bottom — the 
rays. In this pai)er the former alone are dealt with, and only such s])ecies 
as occur in water of twent3'-five fathoms' de])th or less. There is, 
however, an almost perfect series of connecting links between the sharks 
and the ra^-s, and we have included one of them, Sqnafiita, in the i^re.sent 
discussion. This very i^eculiar might with equal propriety be ]>laced 
in the other grouj^ but that it has the gill-openings more or lateral 
in.stead of .strictly on the lower surface, as in the rays. 

The sharks are generall\- large fishes with a curved, 
mouth on the under side of the head, and an assnimetrical caudal fin, 
the upper lobe of which is the longer. The>- ha\-e no ])latelike or 
overlapjnng scales, and their more or rough skin extends over the 
flipperlike fins. The latter are very difi"erent from the fins of most fi.shes, 
in which a framework of si)ines or ra>-s is connected b\- delicate 

I- Previou.s papers of thi.s .series were grouped under the heading "Long 
Island r'auna and Flora." vSince the Brooklyn Botanic (iarden has taken over the 
herbarium and botanical library, which were formerly deposited in the Museum, it is 
not likely that botanical publications will henceforth be i.ssued in the Science 
Bulletin.— Ed. 


nieinbrane. The gill ca\-ities oi^en to the exterior 1\\- characteristic 
parallel slits on the side of the neck. The nasal ap])aratus is well 
developed, and sharks are more dependent on smell in finding their food 
than fishes. As a rnle, the\' are rather sluggish, but ca])able of 
attaining great s])eed when excited. of them have a formidable 
arra\' of teeth, and eat living food, \ et are read\- to turn to the humble 
role of .scavenger. Few authenticated exist of their attacking a 
living man in the water. I'ndoubtedl}- the true man-eater shark, which 
is the species of the mackerel-shark.s— a grou]) containing the most 
active, most voracious, and forms — would not hesitate to do so, 
but since this is ever\where a rare fish, it is a ]K)])ular fallac\' to call an\- 
large, fierce-looking shark a "man-eater." From ha\-ing the mouth on 
the lower side of the head, sharks generallx turn on the side or l)ack in 
taking food from the surface of the water. We ha\e, however, .seen 
them .seize floating objects while maintaining their upright ]io,sition, 
though in doing ,so the snout was ])ushed out of the water. vSome s])ecies 
swim near the bottom ; others are found at the surface, often with the big- 
fin on the back, and the end of the tail, out of water. 

The wanderings and migrations of sharks are of great .scientific, and are subjects concerning which ver\- little is known. Indeed, 
a com]irehensive .study of the life hi.stor\- of an\- fish of this interesting 
grouji, has vet to be made. It is therefore exceedingly im])ortant that 
advantage be taken of the o])i)ortunities offered when unfamiliar sharks 
wash ashore, or are captured by fishermen, for it is ahva\'s ])o,ssible that 
a new record ma\' be made, or a new fact learned. It is highlx' desirable 
that some naturalist who is interested in fishes should ha\-e an op]iortunit\' 
to see anv large or strange shark which ma\- be taken in Long Island 
waters. The de])artnient of natural .science of The Brooklxn Mu.sevun 
welcomes communications on such matters. In the, members of 
various government Life-vSaving stations have sometimes been of much 
.service to the of .science b\- notifying the ])ro])er institution or 
individual of their cajttures. The first shark in the jtresent, for 
in.stance, is known in the western hemisphere onl\- from an exam]ile 
ol)tained b>- the Amagan.sett Coast (luards. 

The s])ecies of sharks described in this Bulletin are re]M-esentati\-es of 
nine families. The first, P.seudotriakidtc, is known from but two 
individuals, one of which was taken on Long Island. 

The (laleitUe, or re(|uiem-sharks, re])resente(i b\ the smooth dogfish, 
dusk\- shark, etc., contain the bulk of modern sharks. The s])ecies are 

xrcHOLs iS; MrKi'iiv : loxc. island sharks. 3 

numerous, uiostlx" trojncal, niaii>- of them \videl\ distributed, a few 
cosmopolitan. They are without .strono- taxonomic characteristics, the 
differences between .some of them being .slight or sul^tle. I'sualh' one or 
more species of this famil\- are numerous on an\- temperate or tropical 
coast. The first dorsal fin is large and jilaced ojiposite the s])ace between 
the ])ectorals and ventrals, the .second dorsal fin is usuallx' nuich smaller. 
The head is normal in sha])e, the caudal fin not lunate and the ])eduncle 
without a median keel. 

The Sphyrnidae, or hammerhead sharks, contain a few species re- 
sembling in general the ])receding family, but with very ])eculiarl\" formed 

The Alo]iiidce comprise but a single sy)ecies, which has an extraor- 
dinaril\- elongate tail, and is cosmo])olitan in warm seas. 

The Carchariidge, .sometimes placed with the Lamnidce, contain a 
few clo.sel>' related s]iecies belonging to a single genus, locall\- com- 
mon on usiialh' tem])erate shores of the world. Our <)ul\' s])ecies has \-er\' 
.sharp and white teeth, with a cus]) on each side at the ])ase. The 
dorsal fins are subequal in si/e, and tliere is no keel on the ])eduncle. 

The mackerel-sharks (Lanuiidcei, swift-swinuning, ])redacious, pe- 
lagic fishes, are rej^rcsented b\' a few warm-water species, which, as a 
rule, do not occur in great numbers anywhere. They ha\-e a central 
keel on the caudal peduncle, and a firm, lunate caudal fin. 

A .single sjiecies com])rises the Cetorhinidte, a huge, sluggish north- 
ern form, .straggling southward to our coast, differentiated from the 
Lamnidse, from which it ai)])ears to be derived, b\- the remarkable length 
of its gill-.slits and b\' the de\'elopment of its gill-rakers. The latter are 
probably u.sed to strain small food from the .sea-water, as is the baleen of 
whalebone whales. 

The family Squalidse, with several deep-water genera, is rej^rcsented 
on the Long Island coast b\- a northern species without anal fin and with 
a s]iine in each of its dorsals. It is conunon in winter. 

Finally the vSquatinidse, with a .single genus and onl\- two or three 
s])ecies, present a very peculiar a])i)earance, due to their flattened circular 
head, narrowed neck, and a pointed, forward prolongation of the pectoral 

There is something ])eculiarly sinister in the shark's make-up. The 
sight of his dark, lean fin la/.il\- cutting zigzags in the surface of .some 


quiet, .s])arklin,u; summer sea, and then slipi^iiy; out of sio^ht not to ap])ear 
a,s^ain, suggests an evil spirit. His leering, chinless face, his great 
mouth with its rows of knifelike teeth, which he knows too well how to 
use on the fisherman's gear, the relentless fur\ with which, when his 
last hour has come, he thrashes on deck and snaps at his enemies ; his 
toughness, his brutal nerveless vitalit>' and insensibilit\' to i)h\sical in- 
jur\-, fail to elicit the admiration one feels for the dashing, brilliant, de- 
structi\'e, gastronomic bluefish, tunny, or salmon. Probabl\- few swim- 
mers have actuall\- met in him their fate, InU doubtless man>- a poor 
drowned sailor has there found his final resting place. 


I. (lill-.slits more or less lateral, not strictly on the ventral surface. 
a. l'"ront of pectoral fin not separated from the neck b}- a deep notch. 
/). First dorsal fin several times longer than high. 

Ilsnufo/riakis iiiicrodoii 

b' . First dorsal fin little, if any, longer than high. 
( . .Anal fin present. Dorsal fins without spines. 

(/. Caudal peduncle without a keel in the center of its side. Caudal fin not 
e. Teeth without basal cusps. 

/". Caudal fin moderate, much shorter than head and Ijody together. 
i,'. Head normal in form. 

//. Teeth small and blunt. A small slender shark, flattened l)elow. 
M usUiiis caiiis 

li' . Teeth larger, sharp, more or less pointed. 

/. Angle of mouth without a well marked groove extending 

along one or both jaws. Teeth erect or moderately oblique. 

j. Teeth similar in both jaws, broad, coarsely serrate, with 

oblique tip and an acute notch below it. .\ large, usually 

spotted shark. 

(iaicoccrdo fii^riiiiis 

J' . Teeth not as aljove. 

/>•. Teeth with more or less serrate edges. 

/. I'irst dorsal fin opposite or behind the center t)f the 
space between the pectoral and ventral fins. A 
large slender species. 

/'lioitacc g/aiica 

I'. Dorsal fin before the center of the space between })et'toral 
and \entral fins. 
III. I'pper teeth broad, triangular, (|uite different from 
the lower, which are narrow on broader l)ases. 
;/. Dorsal fin higli and rather ]jointed. 
C 'ari/iar/iiiiiis iiiilhiTii 


;/'. Dorsal fin low. 

Cair/iarhiiiiis obsriirKS 
III'. Both upper and lower teeth narrow on broader 
CarcharhiiiwA liiiiba/iis 
k' . Teeth not .serrate. Narrow, on broad bases. al)ove ami 


Aprioiiocioii isodoii 

i' . Angle of mouth with a well marked groove extending 
along one or both jaws ; teeth oblique, not serrate. 
Scoliodofi terrcc-iwvcr 

g' . Head pecidiar in form, — flattened, semicircular or hammer-shaped 
Teeth very oblique. 

o. Head semicircular. 

Sphynia fibiiro 
o' . Head hammer-shaped. 

Sphyrna zyi>;ccna 
f . Caudal fin ver\- long, not much, if any, shorter than luad and 
body taken together. 

Alopias vnlpcs 
i'' . Teeth narrow, with basal cusps. Dorsal fins subequal in size. A 
rather small, usually spotted shark. 

Cair/iarias taiirus 

d' . Caudal peduncle with a central keel. Caudal fin more or less lunate. 

p. Gill slits measuring '2 the depth of the body, or 
(/. Teeth slender and shar]), without serrations. 
r. Origin of the dorsal behind the axil of the 
Isiinis dekayi 
r' . Origin of the dorsal over the axil of the 
Isurus punctaiiis 
q' . Teeth triangular, serrate. A ver}- large, iierce 

Carcharodon cair/iarias 
p' . Gill slits exceedingly long, measuring much 
more than y, the depth of the body. A very 
large, sluggish species. 
Cetorhinns niaxiiiius 
c' . Anal fin absent. Dorsals each with a spine. A small s];ecies usuall\ 
spotted with white. 

Sqiialus ac ant/lias 

a' . Front of pectoral fin separated from the con.stricted neck l)y a deep notch. .\ 
peculiar flattened form. 

Squalina squaiiiia 


In the descri lotions which follow this ke\-, the leiiti^th j^iveii aims to he 
that of a well j^rown adult. There is. of course, much intra-specific 
x'ariation in size. 

Citations following the technical name of each shark refer to the 
following two monograi^hic works : 

Jordan, D. .S., and E\ermann, B. \\\ The Fishes of North and Middle 
America. Bull. 47, l\ S. Nat. Mus. 1896. 

Garman, vS. The Plagiostomia ( .Sharks, Skates, and Ra>s). Mem. 
Mus. Com. Zool. XXXVI. 1913. 

The drawings have been conqnled from available figures, ])hoto- 
grai)hs, and specimens. That of Pscndotriakis iiiicivdo)/ is after Jordan 
and Evermann. In onl\' one instance, Aprionodon isodoi, is the drawing 
based on descriptions. The frontispiece of Carc/iar/ii)iiis iiiilbcrti is by 
Mr. Dwight Franklin. 


/\^ntdotri(ikis iiiicrodoii Ca])ello 
Ionian and Evermann, p. 27. 
CTannan, p. 104. 

I"irst dorsal fin nuicli (7 times) lonj^er than hi,i,di. opposite the space between 
pectorals and ventrals. vSecond dorsal somewhat larger than anal, opposite that fin. 
Jaws with many rows of small tricuspid teeth. Length 10 feet. 

Two si)ecimens onl\ of this interesting large shark are known to 
science, one from Portugal, and another which came ashore at 
Amagan.sett, Februarx M, 1SS3, and was secured b>- the crew of the 
Life-Saving Station. 


Miistelus canis ( Mitchill) 
Jordan and Evermann, p. 29. 
(,'alror/iiiins /(ri'is, Gartnan, p. 176. 

P'irst dorsal fin decidedly larger than second dorsal, opposite space between 
pectoral and ventral fins. Body slender, flat below. No pit at root of tail. Teeth 
small, blunt, and pavenientlike. Light gray in color, paler below Length 2 to 4 

The smooth is found from Caj^e Cod to Cuba, and also along 
the coast of Europe. Although not gregarious, it is ver\- abundant, and 
in stmimer is quite generally distributed throughotit the salt waters of 
Long Lsland, where we have records of its occtirrence from Jtuie to 
November. During this season, too, the >oung are born ; the\- are about 
a foot long at birth and from four to twelve in ntimber.- 

The smooth dogfish swims near the bottom, to which habitat it is 
adapted b\- being flattened below. The latter characteristic is ,so marked 
that when the fish is placed ujion a level surface out of water there is no 
tendency for it to fall over onto its side. It is a .slender s])ecies, and all 
its lines are sinuous and graceful. Its teeth are small and blunt, 
suggesting the paved teeth of a skate, and its food consists largely of 
shelly, crablike animals, but to some extent of squids, clams, .sand-worms, 
fish (menhaden, scidpins, ])orgies, swellfish, .stickleback, etc.), and even 
eel-grass It shares with man a taste for young lobsters, and doubtless 
the scarcit>' of this delicac>- alone i)revents its forming a considerable ]iart 
of the dogfish's food.- The .stomachs of ten specimens taken in nets at 
the mouth of the inner basin of Cold Si)ring Harbor, L. I., during the 
month of Jul>-, were examined at the Biological Laboratory- and found to 
contain shrim])s, s])ider crabs, hermit crabs, fiddler crabs, and remains of fishes. 

1907. Field, I. A. Rept. V. S. Bur. Fish. 1906, Doc. 622. 


Since it will take aii\ bait, 1)> uiij:;ht or da\-, the cloj^fish is frequentl> 
caught b}- fishermen who are in pursuit of other species. It is also some- 
what of a scavenger : we have found glass bottles and other rubl)ish in 
its stomach. Careful oljservation and experiment have shown ^ that it 
relies chiefl\- on its keen .sense of smell for finding food. It swims 
lazily along until it scents its pre\ , ])erhaps a crab lying out of sight in 
a tuft of waving ; then it turns, and rapidlx' moving the head 
from side to side, begins a .sy.stematic search over the bottom, circling 
closer and clo.ser to the hiding cru.stacean, which is finally seized with 
a rush, shaken as a terrier shakes a rat, and quickly swallowed. 

In common with other sharks, this species shows remarkable vitalit\- 
and recuperative ])ower after injury. A specimen taken in Buzzard's 
Bay had a large, thoroughly healed opening through the wall of its bod>-. 
Into this hole a lobe of the liver had grown, forming a free plug which 
had served efficiently to repair a wound from which ])robably no higher 
vertebrate could have recovered. ^ 

That the smooth dogfish is not more used for food in this countr\' 
seems entireh' due to prejudice. Its flesh is boneless, nutritious, and 
palatable. ^ 


Galcoccrdo tigrinns Miiller & Henle 
Jordan and Everniann, p. 32. 
Galcoccrdo airticus, Gannan, p. 14S. 

First dorsal fin decidedly larger than second dorsal, opposite space between 
pectoral and ventral fins. Teeth alike in both jaws, large, coarsely-serrate, with an 
obliqne tip and a notch below it in their outer margin. Brown, with numerous dark 
spots larger than the eye ; adult nearly plain. Length 15 to 30 feet. 

3. 1913. Parker, G. H. & Sheldon, R. E. Bull. U. vS. Bur. Fish., 191 2, p. 33. 

4- Murphy, R. C. Science, 1912, No. 905, p. 693. 

5- Field, /. c. 


i.oxc't island sharks. 

A \videl\- distributed tr()])ical shark, much dreaded in West Indian 
waters. Stragglers occur north to Cape Cod. The writers have 
examined the jaws and ])art of the head of a specimen caj^tured in a net 
at IsHp, on September i i, 1915, b>' Captain John Doxsee. 

The tiger shark is ])re.sent every year in variable abundance in 

\'ineyard vSound and Buzzard's Bay, Mass., where small examples are 

often caught in the fish traps. Formerly it is said to have been more 
common than of recent years. 

Its food is known to include whelks, conchs, and squids, as well as 
fishes (menhaden, bonito). 

Prioiiace glaitca ( Linne ) 
Jordan and Everniann, p. 33. 
Galeus glaiiciis, Garmaii, p. 145. 

l'"irst dorsal fin much larger than the second dorsal, opposite space between 
pectoral and ventral fins, nearer to the ventrals. Body slender, snout long. Angle 
of mouth without a long groove extending along one or both jaws. Teeth strongly 
serrate, those of the upper jaw somewhat oblique, those of the lower narrower and 
erect. Steel blue, Ught bluish, or grayish above, paler below. Length 10 feet. 

The great blue shark is a large, warm-water s])ecies occasionally 
reaching our coast. It has been taken half a dozen times in traps at 
Woods Hole,, during the months of Jul\- and August, and a large 
specimen captured near Cit>- I.sland in late October, 191 1, was ])re,sented 
to the American Museum of Natural Hi.story by Mr. Alfred Frank of 
New York. 

This .shark belongs to the group of wide-ranging, ])elagic species, 
concerning the life history of which relativel>- little is known, although 
most of the shark stories that we read in tales of the .sea refer to one of 
them. In common with other pelagic sharks, the blue .shark brings forth 
its young alive. 


This species sometimes follows sailing vessels for da\s or even weeks 
in tropical and warm-temperate seas. It is quickh- attracted b>' the 
smell of blood and decomposing flesh, a fact of which Florida shark 
fishermen take advantage b>' using rank meat and slaughter-house offal 
to entice the blue sharks within striking distance of a lily-iron. The 
skin of this and related species makes the toughest of all leathers, 
particularlv suitable for the manufacture of baggage ; but the commercial 
])ossibilities of shark fishing have hardly yet been realized. The color of 
the .skin in life is a wonderfully intense blue, a hue, however, that fades 
and becomes leaden as the skin dries. 

The teeth of the blue shark are razor-keen, and of the uj^per 
jaw finely serrated. As in most of its relatives { Carcharliiniis, Carcharo- 
don, hums, etc.), the functional teeth stand erect on the edges of the 
jaws in a single, or apin'oximatel\' .single, row. As teeth become 
worn and lost, the membrane from the inner surface moves over the edge 
of the jaw, carrying with it fully developed teeth of a new, .secondary 
row. The bases of new teeth are imbedded in the membrane, and 
the teeth are erected b}- mechanical stress as the membrane draws the 
row abruptly over the edge of the jaw. Thus at an\- given time there 
are behind the functional row of teeth a .series of reserve rows l>'ing re- 
cumbent one below the other on the inner surface of the jaw, with their 
])oints downward or backward. The teeth of the first or uppermost 
reserve row are develoj^ed and ready to move into the ])lace of their 
predecessors ; the teeth of the lower rows are progressively smaller and 
less develojied. rows of incipient teeth are ]-)rotected by a broad 
band of membrane that extends u]) over them from the of the 

During a cruise in the sperm whaler Daisy of New Bedford, one of 
the writers had an opportunity to .see hundreds, even thousands, of blue 
.sharks over a wide .stretch of the tropical Atlantic. Whenever a whale 
was killed, the sharks would uncannih' begin to congregate, like hyenas 
round a dead lion, as.sembling .so rapidly that the .sea would be fairl>- 
alive with them by the time the whale had been towed along.side the shiji. 
The hungry troop would then file silenth' and .slowly along the whale's 
length, fondly rubbing tail fins his black hulk, and doubtless 
anticipating the of the " cutting in." During the execution of this 
process, when the water for an acre aroiuid the shi]) was stained a ghastl\- 

(>■ See Bridj^e, Cambr. Nat. Hist., Fishes, 1904, p. 251 


N'OLl'.MK 3 I'LATK 2 

I. Embryo spined doi^fish {.S(/i/a//is acant/iias) with larj^e yolk sac. Gardiner's 
Island, June 12, 191 1. 2. vSniooth dogfish {Mitsfiiiis caiiis). Port JefiFerson. 

September 24. 1915. 3. Sand .shark { Cair/iarias /aiirns]. abi>ni four and a half 
feel h)ng. Montauk. .August 11, 1915. 

Photographs respectively l)y H. H. Cleaves, J. T. Nichols, and Francis Har])er. 


yellow from outpouring blood, the scrambling sharks would make the sea 
a living mass as each fish tried to bur\- its teeth in the exposed surfaces 
of dark red muscle. Now and then a shark would flounder right out on 
to]) of the whale, and cling there until a descending " blubber-s])ade " had 
])ut an end to all its ambitions. If the " cutting in " of a whale was at 
any time deferred several hours, owing to a continued hunt, the sharks 
would .seemingly become inijiatient ; the>' would then attack the carcass, 
and, thru.sting their heads i)artl>' above the surface, would bite large 
mouthfuls out of the blubber, leaving the black sides of the whale i)itted 
with clean white ".scoo]xs." .Sometimes these bites were so numerous 
that they ha\e rejire-sented a con.siderable of blubber to the 

Sharks are con.sidered by .sailors to be fair quarrx" upon which to 
l)ractice all the of ingenious human nature : indeed it is 
doubtful whether there be any creature that the a\erage human being 
takes more pleasure in destro\ing. Blue sharks are sometimes caught 
at .sea on hooks baited with i)ork. The\- usually prove, however, rather 
sh\' and war\- with regard to fishhooks, often refusing for hours to be 
tem])ted, but then, as if making a sudden resolve, rushing upon the bait 
and swallowing it. We have .seen one hooked, .shot full of lead from a 
re])eating rifle, then har])ooned, hatiled on deck, and disemlxnveled, \et it 
continued alive and alert for a long while, thrashing its tail and o])ening 
and shutting its weird, ex])re.ssionless eyes by moving the whitish lower 
lids. Fortunately sharks have little su.sceptibility to pain. A blue shark 
horribly mutilated b\' rej^eated thru.sts of a whaleman's blubber spade, 
w^as .seen to return immediately to the whale ui>on which it had been 
feeding and to continue ravenousl\- until it ])racticall\ died in the act, 
and sank slowly into the dark de])ths of the .sea. 

The food of the blue shark includes a wide variet\' of 
animals, living or dead. One of the writers once .saw a wounded l)oob>' 
(Su/a) engulfed within the jaws of a shark which was most likelx' of this 
species. During rough weather the blue shark takes to dee]) water, or, 
if in the vicinity of land, to the bottom, where it devours mollusks and 
the like. Whelks it swallows shell and all. Whether the shell is dis- 
solved by powerful, acid dige.stive juices, or disgorged after the ab.sorp- 
tion of its contents, is not certainl\' known. The junior writer has ob- 
served, however, that ca])tured blue .sharks, as well as certain other 
species, have the power of everting the .stomach, so that the whole organ, 
inside out, trails a foot or more from the mouth. Po.s.siblv this denotes 


a habit of ejectiuii; indigestible material such as most sharks frequeutlv 

During the cruise of the Daisy, two or three blue sharks, about 
se\-en feet long, and a smaller shark of a different kind, appeared under 
the vessel's stern on the day on which a sailor died. The old, old, 
maritime conviction that these hated brutes had come exjiresslN- for the 
body was breathed about the ship ; but it was noted i)articularl\- that the 
sharks paid no attention when the dead man was consigned to the waters, 
and they followed uninterruptedly in our wake for several days after we 
had resumed our course. No doubt sharks, like certain sea birds, are ajit 
to follow a whaler more regularly than a merchant ve.ssel, for the former 
is an oleaginous craft, sometimes leaving a slight "slick" in its track, 
and always, if the whaling has been successful, appealing to another 
.sense than sight and hearing. The acuteness of the olfactory .sense in 
birds is a matter of conjecture, but in sharks it is known to be highh- 
developed, probably replacing altogether the sense of taste. 

Tropical sailors sometimes cut out the cruml)ly, lim\- otoliths of the 
blue shark and other sj^tecies, and use them as a kind of specific in the 
primitive therapeutics of seafarers. They also use the vertebral disks of 
the shark's spine to make laminated walking .sticks. Rarely the white, 
firm flesh is eaten, though prejudice acts this, and the average 
sailor would prefer to feed on half- rancid salt meat until he died of 
the .scurvv. In general, therefore, the sole reason for catching a blue 
shark is to kill it and pitch it back into its element. 

We cannot an account of the blue shark without referring to 
its frequent le.s.ser companions, the remora and the pilot fish. The former 
clings by a sucking disk on its head, thus a\-oiding the effort of swim- 
ming, and subsists upon the scraps and crumbs from the shark's table. 
The writers have .seen as many as four remoras attached to one blue 
shark. Sometimes the\- cling to the under surface or flanks of their, sometimes they lie belly up on the donsal side of the shark's pectoral 
fins, and although frequentl\- shifting their positions, they are nevertheless 
so tenacious that they often may be drawn onto the deck of a shi]i with a 
captured shark. 

The little .strij^ed pilot fish, of which man> fanciful tales are told. 
accomi)anies the shark either singly or in small .schools. The junior 
writer once saw the mate of the Daisy hook a blue shark, hoist it half out 
of water, and after lashing the squirming mon.ster in that jxisition, angle 
successful! v for one after another of the .seven pilot fish which swam 



round and round it. Pilot fish exist also in an inde])endent \va\-, that is, 
dis.sociated from sharks, but whenever they acconi]mn\- tlie latter, the\ 
follow their uncon.scious protector closely, rarel>- leax-ini; it for nian\ 
seconds at a time. Occasionalh* the}- dart aside for a morsel of food, but 
hurr}' back again like children afraid of losing their nurse. A favorite 
position with the jiilots is alongside the shark's dorsal fin, but 
.sometimes tlie\- swim beneath their big companion. 

Other fishes than the true jiilots sometimes fill the same role with re- 
lation to sharks. One of the writers once saw a blue shark accompanied 
by a veritable enveloi)ing cloud of young blue-lined runners ( /t/agatis 
bipinnulahis^ , a species which occasionally reaches the coast of Long 

Carcharhinns obsairus (Le Sueur) 

Jordan and Evermann, p. 35. 
Garnian, p. 130. 

First donsal fin much larger than second dor.sal and opposite space between 
pectoral and ventral fins, nearer to the pectorals. The fin much lower than in 
milberti and placed slightly farther back. Snout moderate, blunt. Angle of mouth 
with groove little developed. Teeth finely serrate ; the upper broad, triangular, 
inclined outward, with a concave outer margin. Lower teeth narrow, erect, on broad 
bases. Color brownish gray above, whitish below, sometimes said to be blue 
Length 6 to 10 feet. 

The\- shark is not rare on our Atlantic Coast, and is doubtless 
of frequent occurrence in Long Lsland waters. Its exact .status here is 
not known owing to the ease with which it may be confu.sed with 
Carchar/iinus viilberti. xA shark eight feet nine inches long, ])robably of 
this species, was once harpooned and captured by Mr. A. H. Helme in 
the Sotind off Miller Place. 


According to Mr. H. W. Fowler, the New\ fishermen call the 
dusk_\- shark the "Santiago," from the imi)ression that the cannonading 
during the vS]ianish-American War had forced the sj^ecies to retreat from 
the TrojMcs to our quieter coast. Bean states that the name " Spanish 
shark" is used on Long Island for Cair/iai ias fainiis. We sus])ect. 
however, that it is rather a fish of the genus Carcliarhiuus to which this 
name is usuallx' a])])lied, and we believe that such terms as both 
" vSantiago " and " Si)anish " are to be explained not ujion the basis of 
events so recent and si)ecific as the war of iSgS, but in a general wa}-, as 
follows : English maritime develo])ment and commerce su]>erseding that 
<jf Sj^ain, English i)eoples have for many years come into contact with 
new, more or less southern facts, associated with the Si)aniards and the 
old vSpanish domination of the Tro]iics. Therefore the adjective vS]ianish 
has often been loosely a])plied. with a meaning of strange and southern 
rather than that of its national significance. In this .sense are Si:)anish 
oak, .Sjianish moss, Sj^ianish curlew, .S])anish fever. There are numerous 
fishes, allied to well known, familiar s]:)ecies, that are differentiated as 
"S])anish." Perhai)s the best examj^le is the Spanish mackerel (Scomtny 
(o/ias in England and in early New England. Scoiiibtioiiion<s ii/acii/atiis in 
the middle Atlantic states and of late on all our .seaboard). Another is 
the Spanish bream of Great Britain. There is still a tendenc\- among 
fishermen to designate as " Sjianish " an}- unfamiliar species, especiallv 
if they sus])ect it to be of southern origin. 

The dusky shark, however, is not correctlx' to be a.ssociated with 
the vS]ianish main or Spanish lands, its known latitudinal range extending 
onl\ from Nahant to the coast of North Carolina. 


Cair/ia)/ii)ius niilberti ( Miiller c<: Henle ) 
Jordan and Evermann, p. 37. 
(Tannan, p. 133. 

First dorsal fin much larger than the second dorsal and opposite space between 
pectoral and ventral fins, nearer to the pectorals. The dorsal high and rather 
pointed, its anterior margin contained a little over 6 times in the total length (in- 
cluding caudal). Body moderately .Snout moderate, bluntly pointed. Angle 
of the mouth without a well marked groove extending along one or both jaws. 
Teeth finelv serrate ; the upper broad, triangular, inclined slightly outward, with a 
concave outer margin, the concavity a broad-angled notch with its apex near the 
base of the tooth. Lower teeth narrow, erect, on broad bases. Color l)r()\\iiish gray 
above, whitish below. Length usually 6 or 7 feet. 



I. Blue shark (/^rio/icic-rj^/aino) attacking the carcass of a sperm whale during the 
"cutting in." Photographed in the tropical Atlantic, August 22, 1912, by R. C. Murphy. 
2. Jaws of a twelve-foot white shark {^Carcharodon carcharias) in the Brooklyn Museum. 
The rows of reserve teeth may be seen distinctly in the lower jaw. At the left, two teeth 
of this species are compared with a tooth of the extinct shark {C. megalodou), a species 
believed to have equalled in size the largest w'hales. 3. Brown sharks [Carc/iar/jiims 
liiUberfi). Photographed in the Great South Bay by Edwin Thorne. 




This species is an inhabitant of the teni])erate Atlantic, and the 
commonest lar^^e shark in the latitude of New York. Its known ran^ije 
is from Florida to Cape Cod, and DeKay, in the Zoology of New York 
(1842), states that it had been fre([uentl>' taken in local waters. He 
describes a s]^ecimen over seven feet long, weighing 160 pounds, captured 
at Brenton's Reef, R. I., in vSeptember. 

Four specimens about four feet in length were taken in a fish traj) 
at Woods Hole in August, 1873. Their .stomachs contained amphipod 

crustaceans and remains of fishes. 

Numerous females of the brown shark enter Great .South Bay in 
midsununer to give birth to their young, and may be found there until 
September. The\- frequent the edges of the channels near Fire Island, 
feeding on various species of fi.shes, the flatfish [ Pscitdoplcunvicctes) pre- 
dominating. \^ery probably they employ their sense of smell in discover- 
ing these concealingly-colored fishes as they lie on the bottom. Crabs, 
lobsters, skates, weakfish, young mackerel, menhaden, etc., also make 
u]) ]mrt of this shark's food. 

The brown .shark is in evidence about Block Island fn)m Ma\- until 
November, and it is perhaps the onl\- large shark that enters the small 
bays on the north shore of Long Lsland. During .several recent summers, 
sharks probabl>' of this species, accompanied b\- pilot fish, have been 
seen at Mt. Sinai Harbor, where the\- have created unwarranted conster- 
nation among the bathers. It is onl\- occasionalh- that one catches sight 
of the fin and tail of the brown shark, as for in.stance when it crosses a 
bar, it generall\- keeps below the surface, a characteristic of the 
littoral, as oppo.sed to the ])elagic, sj^ecies. " 


For most of our local data concerning the brown shark we are in- 
debted to Mr. Edwin Thorne of Babylon, whom the senior writer has 
accompanied on shark hunts. In conducting this form of fishing, one 
man .stands on the bows])rit of a sloop, holding a long pole with 
a metal dart fitted loo.sely on its lower end. and attached by a coil of 
ro])e to a bucket. A .second man. aloft, keeps a keen lookout for sharks, 
which may be seen from that height at some distance through the water, 
and instructs the third man at the helm exactl>' how to steer. Now the 
lookout sees a shark moving along the edge of the bar! With care and 
patience he works the sloop towards it. avoiding the shoals where she 
would go aground, and following the winding course of the .shark. The 
man with the hari)oon. who until now has only heard the orders from 
aloft to the helmsman, steadies himself as the sloop swings from one tack 
to the other, and with straining eyes finally begins to see an ehisive 
shadow moving a couple of boat lengths ahead. At any moment it ma\- 
turn and shoot under the bowsprit giving him a fraction of an instant to 
■Strike, or the sloop may creep up till he can laiuich the harpoon forward 
and downward upon the fish, only to see the iron graze its side and the 
pole stand quivering in the sand, while the shark darts awa}- into deep 
water and is gone. All within the thrill of a moment, if skill and luck 
favor, the dart strikes home, and away goes the shark, spinning out the 
coil of roj^e and carrying the tub o\-er the water with a rush I 

The brown sharks taken b>' Mr. Tlmnie have been niostlx" females, 
and have averaged between five and seven and a half feet in total length, 
most of them being over six and a half. The xoung are usuall\- fri)m 
eight to fourteen in number, about equallx" males and females. Fish con- 
taining voung have been recorded from Jtuie 22 to July 18. As there 
is more or less confusion of the clo.sely allied species of the genus Car- 
rharlunus inhabiting the eastern coast of the I'nited States, careful 
measurements in feet and inches of two s]>ecimens of the brown shark 

from Great South Ba\- ma}- be of use : 


Total length 6' 10" 6' 6" 

Lens^h of head and body 5' 4" 

Distance of back fin from .snout 2' 2" i' 1044" 

Distance of back fin from tail 2' 4'2" 2' \^" 

Ori^nn to apex of back fin i' i '4 " '' i" 

Vertical heij^ht of back fin 11" '^H" 

Length of tail i' 9" i' <^%" 

Length of breast fin i' 4'2" i' ^" 

Distance of breast fin from snout 1' S3^ " 

Distance of ventral fins from snout 3' 9" 3' 5'^'' 

Circumference at root of tail \o" ^Vz" 

Circumference at front of back fin 3' 3" 2' \\%" 

Circumference at eye j' lo^i'" i' 9'' 

Di.stance from eye to snout ~" ^M" 

Di.stance from mouth to snout T)Yz" b%" 




Carcharhimis limbatiis (Miiller & Henle) 
Jordan and F.verinann, p. 40. 
Garman, p. 127. 

AUieil to the dusky shark, but with teeth quite different, those of the upper jaw 
being narrow and much like those of the lower. The snout is somewhat pointed. 
The color is gray ; the lower side of the pectoral fin, the second dorsal, the anal, and 
the lower caudal lobe usually tipped with black. Length 5 feet. 

Tropical seas, north to North CaroHua. casuall>" to Long Lslaiid and 
Buzzard's Bay. Mr. Edwin Thorne of Babylon has the jaws of a large 
specimen which he took in (rreat South Bay in midsummer .several years 


Aprionodon isodon (Miiller & Henle) 

Jordan and PZverniann, p. 42. 
(Tamian. p. 1 19. 

Re.sembles the dusky shark in a general way, but the teeth above and below are 
narrow on broad bases, their edges without anv serration. 

A rare Atlantic species which has been recorded from New York 
(Miiller & Henle). \'irginia, and Ctiba. 




S(o/iodo)i terra-'-) I over (Richardson) 
Jordan and Everniann, p. 43. 
Garman. p. 115. 
First dorsal fin much larger than the second dorsal and opposite space between 
pectoral and ventral fins, about midway between the two. Snout moderate, bluntly 
pointed. Angle of mouth with a well-marked groove extending along one or both 
jaws. Teeth without serrations, rather narrow, more oblique than in our species of 
Carcharhintis. Color gray, caudal fin with a conspicuous narrow blackish edge. 
Length 3 feet. 

This species has been recorded as far north as Cai)e Cod. It is 
abundant on the .south Atlantic coast of the Ihiited .States, and not 
uncommon at Woods Hole during the summer ; we know of no recent 
record for Long I.sland. It is a small shark, looking much like the 
species of Carchar/iimis, btit di.stinguishable by its entire, oblique teeth 
and the long grooves at the angle of the mottth. 


Sp/ivrna tihuro ( Linne ) 
Jordan and Kvermanii, ]). 44. 
Cestracioii tihuro, (Tarman, p. i6(i. 
A shark having the general characters of the genus Carc/iar/inii/s. but the liead 
is shovel-shaped, depressed, semicircular in front, its lateral margins continuous with 
the anterior, and making a strong angle with the jiosterior margins. Color uniform 
ashy, paler beneath. Length 3 to 6 feet. 




The shovelhead is a rather small shark, vvidel>- distributed in warm 
seas, common on our south Atlantic coast and said to occur northward to 
Lono; Island, thoui^h we know of no definite records. It is readih' dis- 
tinguished from all our other species b>- the shape of its head. 

Eieht vountr ha\-e l)een taken from the bodv of a full-i2:rown femnle. 


Sphyrna zygcFua ( Linne ) 

Jordan and Everniann, p. 45. 

Cestracion zygcrna, Gannan, ]>. 157. 
Resembles the .shovelhead shark, but the head is even more eccentric in form, — 
truly hammer-shaped, s^jreatly produced laterally between the mouth and end of the 
.snout, its front and hind margins almost parallel, and perpendicular to the length- 
wise axis of the body and to the short lateral margin where the eye is situated. Teeth 
small and very oblique. Color gray. Length 15 feet. 

The hammerhead is a cosmojiolitan, .southern shark, not infrequent 
off the of Long Lsland from Jul>' to October, and most numerous 
during Jul_\' and It probably breeds here, as does the brown 
.shark, for we have .seen the i)hotograi)h of a very .small one found on the 
.shore, and Mr. A. H. Helme rei)orts .seeing dozens of hammerheads about 
two and a half feet long caught in .seines near vShinnecock late in 

Five young have been obtained from the body of a female hammer- 
head. The species reaches a large size, but most of the examples .seen 
in the north are not full-grown. 

Few things in the animal world are more extraordinar\- than the 
appearance of this shark, with its eyes .stuck at the ends of the projections 
of its tuiearthly head. In a large specimen the cro.sstree ma}' measure a 
yard from eye to eye. The famil>- Sphyrnidge contains a progressive 
.series of forms, from those with bonnet-shaped heads to species that are 
even more exaggeratedly hammerheaded then .S". zygtsna. The relation 
of the peculiar configuration to the economy of these fishes is unknown. 


South t)f Montauk Pt)int on August S, 191 3. the junior writer, with 
Mr. Francis Harper of the Brooklyn Museum and Mr. W'iUiam Parsons Jr. 
of Montauk, met a hammerhead about five feet in length which cleverly 
e.scaped cai)ture. It cros.sed the bows of our launch, swinnning lazily at 
the surface with its donsal fin expo.sed, swishing its long tail slowly but 
very limberly. A swordfish harpoon was made ready, and after a few 
moments we followed u]) the shark, which had not gone far. As we 
approached .softly at half-speed, Mr. Harper ]irepared to .strike it from 
the bowsprit, but while the iroa was poised the hammerhead dodged 
quickly, dived below with an agilitx' which contra.sted sharply with its 
former, and came np a.stern. Thereafter it swam in small 
circles for a while so that we could not overtake it, finally diving and 
disappearing altogether. 

The food of the hammerhead shark is known to include squids, 
barnacles, and crabs, besides menhaden and other fishes. There is a 
record of an eleven-foot example, taken in a net at Riverhead in the >ear 
1805, the stomach of which contained man\- detached parts of a man, 
together with his clothing. 


Alopias vu/pcs ( Gmelin ) 

Jordan and E verm an n, p. 45. 
]'iilpecula Diaiina. Garman, p. 130. 

First dorsal fin large, situated opposite the space between the pectoral and ven- 
tral fins. Second dorsal and anal fins very small. Caudal fin reniarkablv long, about 
as long as the head and body. Snout rather short. Color blackish above, pale lielow. 
Length 15 feet. 

The thresher is a warm-water species, conunon to both the Atlantic 
and the Pacific coasts of America, and on our seaboard ranging northward 
in stimmer to Maine. Around Block Island it is .said to be the conunon 



est shark, especially after the i)org\-fishiiig season, or during the latter 
])art of June. It is recorded form Water Island, L. I., in May," and it 
remains in this latitude until very late in the autumn. Mr. A. H. Helme 
informs us of a " whi]^tail," thirteen feet five inches in len.tjth, caught off 
Wading River, in the .Sound, in the .seine of a menhaden .steamer. 

vStrictly a surface swimmer, and readil>- distinguished from all other 
sharks by its long, slender tail, the thresher shark is unique in its feeding 
habits, for it uses its whiplike tail to splash the water, while it swims in 
narrowing circles round a .school of fishes,'^ which are thus kept crowded 
together until the moment of slaughter. Practicall\- ic whiles its pre\ 
into its mouth. Sometimes a pair of threshers work together at this 
highly organized method of fishing. Formerly it was believed that the>' 
killed their i^rey by furious slashes of the flexible tail, but this theory has 
not been well borne out by observation, and it is at least improbable. 
Stories of threshers attacking whales are certainly untrue, the dentition 
of the species being relatively weak. 

Thresher sharks are a great nuisance to fishermen, .sometimes wreck- 
ing pound nets, and regularly destroying incredil)le numbers of herring. 
shad, mackerel, etc. According to Dr. Bean, threshers are caught by 
Gavhead fi.shermen on hooks baited with fresh herring. 

Carcharias taitrus Rafinesque 

Carcharias littoralis, Jordan and Evermann. y 46. 

Carcharias fanriis, Garnian, p. 25 
P'irst (lonsal fin little larger than the second dorsal and sitnated ojjposite the 
sjiace between the pectoral and ventral fins. Teeth long, entire-edged, narrow, 
pointed, mostly with small cusps at base. Color gray, with indi.stinct darker spots, 
the fins more or less black-edged. Length 5 feet. 


7- 1901. Bean, T. H. Rept. N. Y. Forest, Fish and Game Comm. for 1900, p. 
s. 1904. Bridge. /. c, p. 452. 


" Sand shark " is a name more or less loosel\- ai)])lied b>- fishermen, 
but this common species, a somewhat heavier, clumsier fish than the 
smooth dogfish, is easily recognized by its white catlike teeth with cusi)s 
at their bases, its large subequal dorsal fins, and the fact that it is 
si)otted. It is a summer resident along the coast from Cape Cod to Cai)e 
Lookout, N. C, and common in the bays and along the beaches of the 
south shore of Long Lsland from June to October, sometimes entering the 
mouths of streams. 

Sand sharks with eggs still unri])e ha\-e been taken at Woods Hole, 
Mass., on July lo. The species is a nuisance to fishermen because it 
bites a hook readil\' and also destro>s nets. In the Great South Bay it 
is often .seen swimming .slowly near the surface. It eats lob.sters, crabs, 
and squids, but the greater part of its food consists of fishes'' (flatfish, 
eel, weakfish, mullet, ])orgy, etc. ). 

Concerning the habits of this species at Cape Lookout, Mr. Ru.ssell 
J. Coles'" writes as follows : 

" This shark works in a more systematic wa\" in .securing its food 
than an\- shark of which I know. On one occa.sion I saw a school of a 
hundred or more surround a school of blue-fish and force them into a 
solid in .shallow water, and then at the same instant the entire 
.school of sharks dashed in on the blue-fish. On another occa.sion with a 
large school of blue-fish in ni}- net, a .school of .sharks attacked it 
from all sides and ate or liberated the .school of blue-fish, practically ruin- 
ing the net. Again in Jul\', 1914, on Lookout Shoals, I had a large net 
filled with Ijlue-fish attacked by a .school of about 200 of \icit)us 
sharks and the net ruined. I killed about twent> of them with harpoon 
and lance. " 

14. mackhri-:l shark 

Is/in/s dckavi ( Gill ) 

Jordan and Evennann, p. 48. 
/stinis figris, Garnian, p. 36. dor.sal fin oppo.sile the space between the pectoral and xiiilral fins, ahont 
midway ])etween the two. Second dorsal and anal fins very small. Candal fin firm, 
lunate. A horizontal keel on the caudal peduncle. Gill openinj.(s nieasurinjj; one half 
the depth of the body or less. Teeth large, slender, and sharj), witliout serrations or 
basal cusps. Dark bluish gray above, white below. Length m feel. 

1907. Field, /. c. 

Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. XWIII, 1915, ]). qi. 



This shark ranges from the West Indies to Cape Cod, l)ut is nowhere 
common. DeKay records it from the xncinitN* of New York Harbor. One 
of his s])ecimens was taken there in October, 1840, and others have been 
captured in nets in Vine3"ard Sound, Mass., as late as December. It it a 
large, ]iowerful, swift-swimming species. Mackerel and other small 
fishes, conger-eel, and .squids have been found in its stomach. We 
know of no recent Long Lsland records for the mackerel shark. 


/s lints piindatiis ( vStorer ) 

luiiiiiia cor)iHbica (in part), Jordan and Evermann, p. 49. 
Isiirus piiiniafiis. Gannan, p. 36. 

Thi.s species has the first dorsal fin placed only slightly further back than the 
pectorals. It resembles in general the preceding species. Bluish gray above, white 
below. Length 10 feet. 



According to Garman, this s]iecies is abundant off the eastern coast 
of the I'nited States. 

A young individual, about three and a half feet long, was 
caught in a gill-net at Southampton in July, 1S9.S." 

The food of the porbeagle includes both cei)halopods and fishes. 
Full-grown hakes have been found in its .stomach. Its lanceolate teeth 
are adapted to seizing and holding prey rather than for cutting. 


Carchayodoi can/iarias ( Linne ) 
Jordan and Everiiiaiiii, ]>. 50. 
Garman, p. 32. 

Closely allied to /sums but with the teetli in both jaws triangular with serrated 
edges and without basal cusps. Color leaden gray. Tips and edges of pectorals 
black. Length 30 feet. 

Carcharodoi carcharias, or "the biter with the jagged teeth," is the 
largest of the mackerel .shark group, and the oid\- true man-eater shark. 
This, according to Linuteus, is the leviathan which swallowed Jonah. So 
far as we can discover, it is throtighout its cosmopolitan range in warm 
.seas, a rare It is occasional on the Atlantic of the United 
States as far north as Cape Cod, btit we know of no definite record for 
Long Lsland, though Bean includes it in his " Fishes of Long Lsland."'-' 
Two specimens, however, were taken in fish traps at Woods Hole in 
J tine. 1903. 

11- 1901. Bean, /. c. p. 3S0. 

12- /. c. p. 380. 


In 'The Ri\er.side Natural Hi.stor\-,' Dr. J. S. Kiiigsle\- relates that 
the .stomach of a white shark was once found to contain " a tin can, a 
number of mutton bones, the hind quarters of a ])ig, the head and fore 
quarters of a bull-dog, a quantity- of horseflesh, and other and smaller 
things — as the auction bill says — too numerous to mention." 

At the of the writers, Dr. Frederic A. Lucas, Director of the 
American Mu.seum of Natural History, has ver\- kindl\- written for this 
bulletin the subjoined account relating to the status of sharks as man- 
eaters. Dr. Lucas's long experience, coupled with his repeated critical 
investigations of "shark stories" that arise i^erennially along our, eminently fit him to write with finalitx' upon a subject so 
generalh- mi.sapprehended. 

"A question frequently asked is "what is the danger of being 
attacked by a shark about here?" and the answer is, that it is infinitely 
less than that of being struck by lightning. 

" True, not a summer passes without some " maneater " being taken 
along the New Jersey or Long Island coast and sometimes the ' ' monster ' ' 
reaches a length of so much as 8 feet, but these " maneaters " usually 
resolve themselves into harmless, if ugly-looking, sand sharks. 

"Sharks belonging to the two really dangerous species, the white 
shark and the blue shark, are occa.sionall\- taken off our coasts, but 
are stragglers from trojiical waters, and, so far as I am aware, there is no 
record of an>- full}- grown individual ever having been taken within 
hundreds of miles of New York. of shark bite do now and then 
occur, but there is a great difference between being attacked b\- a shark 
and being bittoi by one, and the cases of shark bite are usualh- found to 
have been due to some one incautiou.sly approaching a shark impounded 
or tangled in a net, or gasping on the .shore. And, under such circum- 
stances, almo,st any creature will bite. 

"Some years ago, about 1890, Mr. Herman Oelrichs put the shark 
question to a practical test b}' offering, through the columns of the Nezv 
York Sun, a reward of 5?i500 " for an authenticated of a man having 
been attacked by a shark in temperate zcaters. ' ' That this reward was 
never claimed shows that there is practically- ?/o danger of an attack from 
a shark about our coasts. 

"In the summer of 191 5, the subject was revived in the Vimes, but 
again without eliciting any authenticated case of such an attack, though 
several reports were received or published of such occurrences having 
happened—" quite a while ago " — at some time 


"The subject of shark bites was also agitated in I-'onst and Sfrcani 
about 1896. 

" These various discussions did eHcit a number of well authenticated 
instances of attacks, resulting in death, from sharks in troi>ical waters, 
where the real "man-eating" white shark, Can/iawdon, is found. But 
remember that sharks of this species, which reach a length of fort\- feet 
and are armed with teeth an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half in 
length, are far different creatures from the average shark seen or taken 
along our coasts. 

" Coi)ies of some of communications are ai)i)ended to this 
chapter, in order that the reader may form his own ojiinion of them. 

" The writer of lines, in his lK)>hood, sjjcnt four years at .sea, 
but he never met a man who had been attacked by a shark nor even one 
who knew of an in.stance of the kind having happened. Not that such 
attacks do not occur, es])ecially under favorable circum.stances, such as noted later where sharks were attracted b_\' the .scent of blood or 
offal and accustomed to feeding on whatever the\' found. 

"One of the commonest .statements is that "the shark l)it off the 
man's leg as though it were a carrot," an assertion that shows that the 
maker or writer of it had little idea of the .strength of the a])paratus 
needed to ]ierform such an amputation. Certainl\- no shark recorded as 
having been taken in waters could ]:)ossibh' i)erform such an act, 
though this might occur if a shark thirty feet or more in length hai)i)ened 
to catch a man fairly on the knee joint where no .severing of the bone was 
necessary. The next time the reader carves a leg of lamb, let him 
speculate on the power required to .sever this at one stroke— and the bones 
of a sheej) are much lighter than of a man. Moreover, a shark, 
popular belief to the contrary notwithstanding, is not ]mrticularly .strong 
in the jaws: under "blue shark" Mr. Murphy notes the difhculty of 
sharks in tearing meat from the carcass of a whale, and I remember m\- 
own disa])i)ointment at witne.ssing the efforts of a twelve-foot shark to cut 
a chunk out of a .sea lion. The .sea lion had been dead a week and was 
su])])0.sedl\- tender, but the shark tugged and thrashed and made a great 
to-do over each mouthful. 

"But it is the part of wi.sdom to keep awa\- from ])oth ends of a 
captured shark, for a blow of the tail is almost as l)ad as a l)ite. 

"Some of the su])joined notes appeared in the Xcw )oik TiniiS and 
some were received as i)er.sona] letters. 


Excerpt from AVei' ]'ork 'fiiiws, .luoiist j, /g/^. 

***" I ajj;itated the question of shark t>ite.s a nuinl)er of years ago in the columns 
of Forest and SfrciDii and succeeded in getting two fairly reliable references to such 
cases. One occurred at Bombay, where a man went bathing from a wharf whence it 
was customary to dump offal. The shark naturally thought all was offal that came 
his way, and took his leg off. .\nother occurred in the Hawaiian Islands, where a 
man started to swim for a boat that had broken adrift from a schooner. A shark 
came along, found that the man was harmless, and took him in out of the wet." 
(Signed) F. .\. Lucas, Director .\mericaii Museum of Natural History. 

Excerpt from AVa' )'ork '/lines, .htgiist si), /g/^. 

"If any one who doubts that sharks in temperate waters do attack hunuui 
beings will visit Sydney, .\. S W , and pursue his inquiry there, his doubts will be 
speedily resolved. Offhand, I can remember three specific in.stances of death from 
attacks by sharks in Sydney Harbor. The first was that of a boy sitting on a wharf 
at Ryde, on the Paramatta River, one of the numerous arms of the harbor. His legs 
were dangling in the water and a shark came up, seized a foot, and disappeared with 
the boy, whose body was never seen again. The second was a youth of about twenty 
\'ears, who was swimming across one of the bays. Halfway across he was seized by 
a shark, and the body was never recovered. The third instance was in Lane Cove. 
A youth was in swimming, but not out of his depth, when a shark seized him. By 
desperate eflforts he managed to escajie, l)ut was so badly bitten that he died within 
a few hours. 

Originall} there were no dangerous sharks in the harbor, the generally accepteil 
explanation of their presence being the discharge of blood and offal from the meat 
abattoirs at Globe Island into the harbor waters. This unsanitary system has long 
since been abolished and the abattoirs removed, so that the bad ])reeminence of Sydney- 
harbor will, in due course, doubtless become a thing of the ])ast."" (Signed) N. .S. \V. 
East Orange, N. J. 

Excerpt from AV'a' )'ork 7'iiJies, .h/i^//s/ si, igi^- 

**■" ".About I S70 a schooner bound from some Eastern port to New York became 
becalmed off Horton's Point on Long Island Sound, and while the vessel lay waiting 
for a breeze one of the crew went swimming from her. While he was enjoying him- 
self at some distance from the schooner his fellow shipmates descried a shark making 
for him. Shouting warning to him they got out a boat for his rescue, but before they 
reached him the .shark grabbed him by the hip. He endeavored to blind the fish. an<l 
either did, or the approaching boat frightened it off, for his shipmates took him in the 
boat and by rowing two miles brought him ashore, where they obtained a wagon and 
after a drive at least as far, obtained a doctor, who attended to the wounded man. 
He was taken to Greenport, where he received necessary care for several weeks and 
finally was able to be taken to his home. I did not see the boat, man, or shark, but 
heard about the case at Greenport while the sailor was there and I suppose there are 
some of the older Greenport people that remember about it."*** (Signed) B. G. 
Davis, Glen Cove, N. Y. 


Hxcerpt from .Wti' )'ork 'fisiu-s, September S, /g/j. 

*** " ' Like you, I have spent iiiaii\- years in cruisinj^ from Maine to Florida and 
Nassau, looking for a man bitten by a shark,' Mr. W'inslow wrote to Dr. Lucas. ' Last 
week Colonel Hunter, U. S. A., retired, told me that he saw a man at Key West who 
had part of his left breast bitten away while trying to kill a large shark with a hatchet. 
The shark was caught in the man's seine, and the owner was trying to save his 
net and was standing in about four feet of water when bitten.' " 

"In a postscript Mr. W'inslow adds that he 'once employed a diver who had his 
arm broken by a shark trying to escape from the hold of a sunken steamer. The 
diver had unintentionally cornered ]SIr. vShark. ' " - ■^=- 

" Perha]).s the most remarkable shark story is the following", votichecl 
for by Frank Ctiiidall, vSecretary of the Instittite of Jamaica, save tliat the 
skipper was not " tried for his Hfe," btit for violation of the 
Navigation Laws : 

•To the Editor of the .\Vr<' )'(irk Times: 

I notice by the evening papers that certain documents thrown overboard from 
the Marina Guezada in the harV:)or of Pernambuco, Brazil, were later recovered from 
a shark's stomach, and that these papers will be used as evidence by the Government 
in a prosecution. 

Remarkable as this seems, it is not without j^recedent. In the eighteenth century 
an American priv'ateer was chased by a British man-of-war in the Caribbean Sea, and, 
finding escape impossible, the Yankee skipper threw his ship's papers overl)oard. 
The privateer was captured and taken into Port Royal, Jamaica, and the Captain was 
there placed on trial for his life. As there was no documentary evidence against him 
he was about to be di.scharged when another British vessel arrived in ])ort. The 
Captain of this truiser re])Orted that when off the coast of Haiti a shark had l)een 
captured, and that when opened the privateer's papers had been found in his stomach. 
The papers thus niarvelously recovered were taken into court, and solely u])on the 
evidence which the\' afforded the Captain and crew of the privateer were condemned 
The original papers were preservecj and ])laced on exhibition in the Institute of Jamaica 
in Kingston, where the "shark's papers," as they were called, have always been an 
object of great interest." (Signed) .A. Hyatt \'errill. New York, Nov. 20, 1915." 


Ctior/iiniis ii/axiiinis ((itmner) 

Jordan and Evermann, ]). 51. 
Garman, ]>. 39. 

Bears a general resemblance to the mackerel sharks that extends to the lunate 
caudal fin and keeled peduncle. Its gill-slits are much prolonged, taking in almost 
the entire depth of the body ; eyes and teeth small. Dorsal fin midway between the 
])ectoral and ventral fins. Not spotted orstri])eil. Ivcngth over 30 feet. 



In the basking shark we have a si)ecies which differs from nearly all 
of the preceding in that its range extends for a great distance northward 
of the latitude of Long Island. It occurs in Arctic .seas, casually south 
to Virginia, or beyond, on our coast. The junior writer saw one in 
latitude 32° N., longitude 39° W., on September i, 1912. It has been 
taken in the Mediterranean, near vSardinia, and sharks of the same or a 
closely allied species have been recorded from Australia and the west 
coast of South America. In 1822 an exami)le was cajitured in the lower 
harbor of New York, and another was taken at W'esthampton on 
Jiuie 29, 191 5. 

The basking shark, or bone shark as seafarers generally call it, is a 
sluggish, pelagic, surface-swnmming species. This shark and its tropical 
counterpart the whale shark ( /\/iinodo)i) , are the largest of fishes, yet 
among the most hel]iless and inoffensive so far as dental equipment is 
concerned. Their teeth are exceedingly minute, conical, numerous, 
arranged in several rows, and probably without in feeding. The 
mouth, how-ever, is of extraordinary width, and the gill-rakers, which are 
greatly developed, doubtless function as does the baleen of whalebone- 
whales in .straining small fishes and other marine creatures from the 

At certain .seasons basking sharks are gregarious, shoals of them 
l\ing motionless with backs awash. Pairs also have a habit of swimming 
in tandem formation, one immediately- behind the other. It is very 
likeh* that two such great fishes, with their high dorsal fins showing like 
leg-o' -mutton .sails forty or fift\- feet a])art, have more than once given 
rise to tales of the .sea-ser]ient. 

Both the bone shark and the whale shark have enormous livers 
which yield a great quantity of marketable oil, sometimes as much as a 


ton and a half. These huge species have always been hunted more or 
less by sperm whalers, and one New Bedford skipper is said to have taken 
125 barrels of bone shark oil in two da\'s. The ])one shark is still hunted 
from the Iceland and Irish coasts, and about the middle of the eighteenth 
century, before the days of American ]ielagic whaling, an extensive 
fishery was conducted along the Massachusetts coast, when it was not 
unusual to obtain 400 gallons of oil from a single liver. The fi.shes were 
captured by harpooning from .small boats, the iron being thrown as near 
the snout as po.s.sible in order to pre\-ent the shark from diving before it 
could be lanced. The dangerous feature of the industry was the likeli- 
hood of the boat's destruction by the huge fish's tail. The liver oil was 
tried out in ordinary iron l:)oiling jiots. 

According to the Ignited States Fish Conunission Report for 1902, 
" Shark oils are largely u.sed in tanneries, in steel tem])ering, and in \-ar- 
ious compounds where it is desired to impart a low s]iecific gravity. The\' 
are also valuable as a liody for ])aints for out-of-door objects, as 
walls, fences, etc." 

The bone shark recentl>' captured at \Ve.stham])t()n, and referred to 
above, had become entangled in a liluefish net, and was hauled ashore 
alive. It was examined b\- Dr. L. Hussakof, who writes as follows :"^ 

" The shark was a male, fourteen feet in length. The caudal had 
been cut off before I reached the scene, so that I could not verify the exact 
length ; but from the measurements I made, the length was apparently as 
.stated. The s]iecimen was therefore small for this s]^ecies, not even half 

"The color of the shark was gra\ish black, a little darker above 
than on the sides and bell>-. The under side was not white, as it is .stated 
to be in textbooks ; the only white about the specimen was a triangular 
patch on the under side of the rostrum, extending from the mouth as a 
base, to a point half-wa\- to the ti]) of the snout. There were also two 
pale bands in the mid- ventral region, one on either side of the median 
line ; they were about two inches in width, and had broken or jagged 
margins. They were confined to a ]K)rtion of the ventral region, in front 
of the mixopterygia. 

" The .striking feature about the shark, to one who had never 
seen the species in the flesh, was the extraordinary shajie of the ro.strum. 
This was the exact form of the lead end of a bullet, and .so unlike that of 

Copeia, 191,5. No. 21, p. 25. 



an>- other shark that it could ser\e as a diagnostic character equally with 
the enormous gill-clefts, to distinguish this species from all other sharks. 
It should be noted, too, that the rostrum was not short, as it is represent- 
ed in textbook figures, but i)rojected considerably in front of the mouth. 

"The whole surface was covered with minute tul)ercles, which were 
rough to the touch when the shark was stroked from behind forward. 
The tubercles were especially large at the tij) of the ro.strum. On the 
snout, both above and below, were sen.sory pores distributed in groups. 
They were tran.sver.sely elongated and ver\' large, .some of them '4 inch in 
width. The long, slender gill-rakers, which are so di.stinctive of this 
species, were black in color, and looked like long, fineh- toothed combs 
attached to the gill bars. The longest rays were 2/8 inches in length. 
The teeth were set in the jaws in three rows, except in a few spots, where 
there were a few extra teeth giving the appearance of four rows. 

' ' The alimentary canal contained a large quantity of bright red 
material. On examination under the micro.scope, this resolved it.self into 
a vast multitude of minute Cru.stacea (species not yet determined), 
reddish bodies lent color to the entire 

"A few measurements, especially of the head region. ma\' here ])e 
given : Rostrum, from front of e\e, lo'/; in. Diameter of e\-e, i ' j in. 
Front of eye to no.stril, 3 in. Width of no.stril. i '4 in. Di.stance between 
inner margins of nostrils, 4-^4 in. Mixopterygia, 7 '4 in." 

Squalus acaiit/iias Linne 
Jordan and Everniann, p. 54. 
Garnian, p. 192. 

First dor.sal fin the .space between pectoral and ventral fin.s. and 
.second dorsal fins each with a spine in front. No anal fin. Slate color above, pale 
below, more or less marked with whitish spots above. Lenjj^h 2 to 3 feet. 


The spilled dogfish is common off the ocean side of Long Island from 
October to June. It is abundant on the North Atlantic coast of Europe 
as well as America, migrating southward in winter, its range extending 
into the Tro]:»ics. During ])art of the year it inhabits deej^er water than 
most of the sharks included within the scope of this ]iaper, but at the 
times of its migrations it ap])ears inshore and at the surface in huge, 
voracious schools, tremendously destructive to other fishes. These form 
the greater part of its food, though it also eats squid, jellxfish, etc. 
Ihifortunate is the fisherman who gets into the schools of " thorndogs." 
If they do not crowd the good fish from that part of the ocean, they eat 
them off his line before he can get them to the surface, or fill and choke 
his nets, which they snarl and cut badly. Twenty thousand spined 
dogfish have been taken in a single haul of a seine off the British coast. 

This species is the "cod shark" of New Jersey- fishermen. On 
Long Island it is sometimes called the bonefish, from its spines. It is 
pestiferously abundant off the mouth of the vSound during the porgy 
season in May. 

We have found s])ined dogfish numerous in late November near the 
bottom at the edge of the continental shelf off New York. Unlike .some 
other fishes, they .seemed little incommoded by the change in ])ressure in 
being brought from deeji water to the surface, and when thrown over- 
board they .started to swim downward again. At this season many of 
them contain well-developed young, three such being the number 
commonly obser\-ed. We have also a record of a female taken near 
Gardiner's Island on June 12, 191 1, which gave birth to .several young on 
the deck of a boat. Couch, in his ' Fishes of the British Islands ' ( 1867 ), 
gives .some interesting data regarding this species. He .says that for nine 
or ten months of the year the female i^roduces young continuously, and 
that the dogfish is somewhat preyed upon by other larger fi.shes. He 
also describes how the fish the s])ines on its back for, and 
.states that if a finger be placed on its head, it will bend it.self into a bow 
and .strike .so accurately with the posterior spine that it will prick the 
finger without i)iercing its own .skin. 

From \ear to \ear this si)ecies varies greatl>- in its abundance in 
certain waters, .sometimes being entirely ab.sent. The fact that it is rarely 
utilized for food seems to be due eiitirel\- to ])rejudice. Formerly 
it was u.sed exten.siveh' in the manufacture of fertilizer or " fish guano." 
On treeless shores, such as Ca])e Cod, dried dogfish frequently .serve as 
fuel. A liver-oil indu.stry was at one time carried on along the New 




England coast, and is still extant in Newfoundland. The dogfish livers 
are richest in fat during vSepteniber and October, and the oil is extracted 
by "sun-trying" instead of by the usual l:)oiling method, the livers being 
allowed to .stand in o})en vats of water until the\' have macerated, when 
the oil is .skimmed from the surface. The skin of this shark, of 
its fine, hard denticles, is of value in certain crafts, such as poli.shing 
metals. The United States Government has recentl>- investigated the 
various commercial ]>o.ssibilities of the spined dogfish. .Speaking before 
the American Fisheries Society in 191 1, Dr. George \V. Field, 
chu.setts state conimi.ssioner of and game, .said: "The matter of 
the utilization of dogfish depends on the question of bringing them into 
port. Fishermen to bring them in at present. We are now 
endeavoring to make a market by which the fishermen can bring the fish 
to definite places for utilization. But this is difficult, for no manufacturer 
will equi]) a ])lant until assured of a definite supply of dogfish." 

Sqiiatina sqnatina (Linne) 
Jordan ami Evermann, p. 58. 
k'liiita duiitcril. Garman, p. 252. 

An extraordinary-lookinjj^ fish. Both donsal fin.s small, behind the ventrals. 
Body flat, the head circular in outline. Pectoral fins expanded in the plane of the 
l)ody, broad, produced forward, separated from the neck by a deep notch. No anal 
fin. Ashy j^a}- above, much blotched and speckled with olive ; white Ijelow, Lenj^tli 
2 to 4 feet. 


The monk-fish, angel-fish, fiddle-fish, or bullhead shark, all of which 
names are more or less appropriate, is one of the strangest in a])pearance 
of living fishes. Its circular head, constricted neck, and winglike 
pectoral fins are diagnostic. It is one of those forms intermediate between 
the normal shark and the flattened ra\- or skate. Its skin is said to ha\-e 
been much used by the ancients. 

Squatina is widely distributed in warm seas, on both sides of the 
Atlantic and also along our Pacific shores. It occurs s])aringl\ on our 
eastern coast northward to Cape Cod. Pebbles, fishes, and the opercula 
of wdielks have been foiuid within its .stomach. It is said to produce 
about twenty young at a l^irth. It occurs occasionally in summer in the 
bavs along the south shore of Long Island. 

In a list of 'The Sharks of the Middle .Allantic States' (L'upeia, No. 31), Aj)ril. 

1916), ^Ir. Henry W. Fowler uses the follovvinj^ technical names for species treated 

in thi.s paper : 

Smooth dogfish A/iis/cliis iiii(sfi'/iis (Linne) 

Great blue shark (i/yp/iis i^/aitcus (Linne) 

Dusky shark Eiilaiina obscura ( Le Sueur) 

Brown shark Eulaiiiia iiiitbcrii ( Miiller (S: Henle) 

Thresher shark Alopias ru/piiiiis ( Bonnaterre ) 

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